There’s nail artists, and then there’s Juan Alvear. Based in New York, Alvear’s work might be considered more of an art form than a beauty trend, reminding of post-modern structures and sculptures than mere manicures. According to Alvear himself, his work is meant to push the boundaries of what it considered aesthetic, indeed of what is considered fashionable.
“I like pushing the boundaries of what is expected and what can be seen as beautiful,” he remarked once in an interview with Coeval Magazine. “It’s a balancing act of the two.”
Having studied sculpting and painting at Cooper Union, Alvear’s practice draws from other forms of artistic expressions. “My nail practice is meant to be surreal and uncanny because it usually diverges from functional and leans into performative,” he notes. According to Alvear, his work was a byproduct of continual experimentation and exploration, resulting in the highly popular Instagram page, “Nails by Juan”.
Since launching his unique project, Alvear has been approached by a-list celebrities, working with artists like Lil Nas X, Rihanna, and Erykah Badu. His nail art has also featured in music videos of artists like Rosalía, Arca, and Charli XCX. “Every design is different and serves different purposes,” Alvear explained, “because there isn’t a single objective I can’t say I have one favorite.”
Recent projects include translucent chrome, in-lodged amethyst nails and floating heart nails that make for a bitter sweet sort of effect. Inspiration sources also vary and depend on the project.
“I draw inspiration from color, form, texture, and how these things meet,” says Alvear. “The real motive behind my work is to give a new, fantastical point of view”. Indeed, his work will make you question the very function of nail art.